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Reliable Sources

Series/Special. Examining media coverage and how it can shape the news. New. (CC)

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01:00:00

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480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Mike Daisey 16, Gingrich 10, Mike Daisy 9, Newt Gingrich 7, Rick Santorum 7, New York 5, China 5, Newt 5, America 5, George Stephanopoulos 5, Ron Paul 5, Jason Blair 4, David Shuster 4, Florida 4, Us 4, Washington 3, Obama 3, Daisey 3, Julia Roberts 3, Romney 3,
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  CNN    Reliable Sources    Series/Special. Examining media coverage  
   and how it can shape the news. New. (CC)  

    March 18, 2012
    8:00 - 9:00am PDT  

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hardworking swiss are apparently perfectly content with only four weeks of vacation and voted no on a referendum that would have put them in line with their neighbors, most of whom enjoy six weeks of r & r each year. thank you for being part of my program this week. i will see you next we'll. stay tuned for "reliable sources." in the anals of major journalistic blunders, this is unique. this american life might have needed alleged abuses of the chinese factory making i phones and ipads and on friday the host delivered this stunning retraction. >> i'm coming to you today to say something that i've never going to to say on this program. the most powerful and memorable moments in the story all seem to be fabricated. >> the public radio show relied on an account by performance artist mike daisy, who invented many of the details and now says, well, his work was theatrical and shouldn't have
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been used as journalism. how on earth could this have happened? deja vu on the presidential campaign trail with the pundits again denigrating mitt romney after a pair of victories by rick santorum, and many prodding newt gingrich, again, to quit the race, and what about santorum's charge that fox news is schilling for romney? plus, comedian ali wentworth on her new show. her marriage to george stephanopoulos, and how the president reacted when he heard she would be entertaining at the white house. >> obama said, ali wentworth, isn't she inappropriate? which in my world is a huge compliment. >> huge. i'm howard kurtz, and this is "reliable sources." >> it was the most popular episode in the history of this american life. public radio reported on alleged abuses at a chinese factory that
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makes ipads and iphones. it relied heavily on one-man performance artist mike daisy. hurz hoe ira glass put it. >> when i saw mike daisy perform this story on stage, when i left the theater, i had a lot of the questions. i mean, he is nott a reporter, and i wondered did he get it right? and so we've actually spent a few weeks checking everything that he says in his show. then the workers start coming in. they come in in twos and threes and fours. there's a group that's talking about hexane. n-hexane is an iphone screen cleaner. the problem is that n-hexane is a potent neurotoxin, and all these people have been exposed. their hands shake uncontrollably. >> that never happened at all. he never met those people. daisy twended himself in a statement saying i stand by my work. what i do is not journalism. i regret that i allowed this american life to air an excerpt from my mono log, but this is my only regret. hardly the only regret from the program that was left to explain this fiasco.
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joining us now from new york, eric, senior editor at all things d.com, and here in washington eric, the blogger for the washington post. was it a fatally flawed approach for a news program to tackle such a serious subject with a guy who is a performance artist? >> basically the reason is that we accept an ad mixture of fact and fiction in our entertainment products, and while mike daisy's mono log is an enter timt product, and a thought provoking one the fact of the matter is that when the fact checker for this american life contacted daisy, daisy created a story where the translator, the key character here is this woman named cathy. who search as translator, fixer, all purpose helper in china. none of the three key anecdotes that appeared in the radio piece could be corroborated, and he lied about it. >> we'll get further into that in a second.
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given the fabrications here, one lie piled on another, and you have written about this. where does this fit? >> it's pretty prominent. i think it's somewhere up there. it's definitely top five, top ten. i would say. i think it's also top five, top maybe two or three in terms of how they handle it. they came out straight. they did a huge, you know, 58 minutes on my podcast. in addition to an entire edition of "this american life "toy correct the record, and it was incredibly compelling piece of journalism that correction of the record. i think that if it was an egregious mistake, it was a glorious, glorious correction. >> one that they would like to -- yes, i agree with you. it's a first class retraction, that we invited ira glass to appear on this program this morning. he was not able to do that, and mike daisy did not respond for our e-mail inquiries. let me go back to new york. just let's tease this out a little bit, but it's not just that mike daisy does -- who
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micks up facts and fiction -- facts and fekz for a living just told a couple little white lies here. he claimed to have visited places he didn't visit. he claimed to have seen things he didn't see. you mention this business about the chinese translator. he tried to prevent this american life from reach this translator by changing her names so nobody could find her. that's pretty premeditated stuff, is it not? >> my hat is off to rob schmitz of marketplace who brought the stories to this american life for the retraction episode. he put cathy translator into google, and she was the first hit. he found annie. just on a lark he called her and her name was not anna as mike daisy had told "this american life" fact checker. the point in the piece for all things -- who would think to lie to ira glass? on top of that, who would think to lie to ira glass's fact checker. on top of that, i mean, what we finally have is a brchl of
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anecdotes. the n-hexane segment, that was in a different city, 900 miles away, and mike daisy claims to have met these people, which is highly unlikely, and cathy says it never happened. >> another important thing here is that one of the -- the biggest thing that got trashed in this whole thing is the theater. you know, in other words, arts and entertainment, you know, there's this notion somehow that theater it s for liars now because somehow it's okay if mike daisy lies in front of a crowd. ira glass in that episode said, you know, if i were in theater and you said you talked to somebody but you didn't, that's still a lie. >> i want to pick occupy that, but as you were mentioned, for people not familiar with this actor, let's play a little bit of mike daisey's one-man show which is called the agony and ecstasy of steve jobs. >> steve jobs has always been the enemy of nostalgia. he has always understood that
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the future requires sacrifice. steve jobs is never afraid to knife the baby. >> he is i very entertaining fellow, but if you have a serious radio show you are going to peg your credibility on a guy on this guy who enter tanz people for a living, who says he met with workers who were poisoned by this cleaner, their hands were shaking. he never met with any of them. >> it's almost an impossible retro fit there. and that's what he figured out is that this guy had been in theater after theater telling these tall tales, and so he faced sort of a quannedry. he said he was trapped. in other words, oh, if i tell these guys, hmm, that's not true, that means i've been lying to all these people for months and months, and if i don't -- if i don't tell them, then this thing won't run. he felt very trapped, and it was really -- that's what made the correction, the retraction so compelling. >> let me pick up with more of what mike daisey had to say. he says that -- you know, he is
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actually proud of his work because it sparked growing scrutiny of apple. the combination of fagt, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and i believe it does so with integrity. now, eric, what he calls dramatic license, i would call lying through your teeth. he doesn't seem to be owning up to the magnitude of the fabrications that he perpetrated here. >> the only possible motivation i can come up mike daisey had for doing what he did in this american life is to raise his own profile and to become a media darling, leading a discussion about worker rights in china, worker rights in the electronics industry, worker rights generally. what he has ultimately done has damaged that discussion because now we have to start all over. we have to completely recalculated what is true and separate it from what is not. he has done more damage to a legitimate, important economic and policy discussion that we absolutely have to have, and the only reason that i can come up with is that he wanted to sell more tickets to his show and
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raise his media profile, and it's unfortunate. >> all right. let me go now to los angeles where we're going to talk to kye, who is from the program "marketplace." good morning, sir. we had trouble getting your shot up at the top. would you take a moment to explain how your reporter for "marketplace" was able to blow the whistle on this scam by mike daisey? >> sure. it's a pretty basic story. i mean, rob has been in and out of china reporting there and working there for 15 years. he knows the place. he heard the mike daisey piece in january when it aired, and as many other reporters did, he thought things didn't sound right. the idea of guards having guns at the gates. that just doesn't happen. you're not allowed to have a gun in china. >> fox con is the supplier for apple that makes -- >> they're the ones, right. they're the ones that make the cases. anyway, rob actually did a very basic bit of reporting, and he says it in the "this american life" show that airs this weekend. he googled cathy
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translatoriongun called her up and went to the factory with her and started talking to her. it was just basic, basic shoe leather reporting. it was great. >> then he goes to "this american life" another public radio show and reports that he and ira glass together went to talk to mike daisey. my question to you, was he investigating the journalism of "this american life" or working with "this american life" to expose what turned out to be a fabrication? >> rob got ahold of our executive producer debra clark, and he said, listen, i have this story. let's talk about how to handle it. we thought about it for a couple of days. debra said this is ira's story. we want to get the truth out about this however the best way to do that is. she got together with ira. they had a couple of conversations. they decided what they were going to do was a two-track thing. rob would do advertise hen story for us which aired on friday afternoon, and then rob in a separate editorial chain would do the deconstruction of the thing with ira and mike daisey in a joint interview in the
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studio. if you heard "this american life" broadcast this weekend, first 20 minutes is rob saying how he got to the truth of this, and then the last part is ira talking to mike daisey about it. >> exceptional good reporting. [music playing] confidence. available in color. depend® for women is now peach. looks and fits like underwear. same great protection. depend®. good morning. great day. i'm going to own my own restaurant. i want to be a volunteer firefighter. when i grow up, i want to write a novel. i want to go on a road trip. when i grow up, i'm going to go there. i want to fix up old houses. [ female announcer ] at aarp
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back talking about the stunning retraction of the radio practice "this american life "everybody" there's a story about -- in new york this guy the performance artist mike daisey, we're all kind of now beating up on "this american life," but you right in a piece this morning that you are equally outrageous is the national media's willingness to give daisey is a platform radio fooe repeat the same lies and fabrications without making the same lies without vetting them. >> mike daisey, because of the prom 234e7bs brought on to him about the "this american life" appearance, he appeared on cbs news sunday morning which i think the piece is definitely going to have to be walked back
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if not retracted entirely. he repeated at least one of the now tainted appearances. there were appearances on hbo with bill maher. there were appearances on "news hour" on pbs and there was an op ed in the "new york times" and an op ed in the new york dailies news. >> he was on cnn international as well. >> exactly. all of these numerous -- there was a reporter's roundtable on cnet news where he jointly appeared with charles of the "new york times", and at the end of that appearance charles says -- urges people to go out and see daisey's show. so even the "new york times" is relatively tough and defensible reporting on this issue and that's a little tainted here. everybody who has touched mike daisey on this issue in the last three to four months is fainted and they need to go back and reexamine their archives and unpack it. >> k eh, the host and senior editor of "marketplace." why do you think so many over media outlets could put this guy on and give him anchor air time and to repeat these allegations
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without checking them, as your reporter spent a lot of time checking and was able to, you know, unravel what really was a house of cards built on a bunch of fiction. >> i think there are two important points. traul, it's that mike daisey say great, great storyteller, and when you have a guy that spins a we can line that and gets you involved, it's really difficult to take it apart and say, listen, let's think about this for a second and what doesn't really work here. there's another part of this, though, that maybe you got to in the first couple of miss minutes before i join you, but there are parts of mike daisey's story that is true. it does happen that apple has had under aged workers, and it does happen that n-hexane, and it does need to be said, but the bounl line is that mike tells a great story, and people sort of suspended their disbelief. that's what happened. rob schmidt said i have been here, i know this. let me look around a little bit. >> what is the difference here between what mike daisey did and jason blair? >> you know, blair, i think,
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he -- that's a really good question. i would say that blair -- >> he claimed to have conducted interviews for the "new york times". he never conducted. >> he said he was places he never was. daisey claimed to be places he never was. he did go to china, but he never intud anybody who had n-xe ane exposure. >> like jasonon blair, he actively covered up by trying to obscure, for example, by not giving the correct name of the translator. the program that he knew he was going to report this as journalism from finding out, and so i'm having a hard time with this. well, i'm an entertainer and it was just kind of taken out of context. >> that's one excuse jason blair didn't have. there does seem to be a fair amount of parallels between the two. i do think that gsh and, you know, the thing about jason blair ace thing is he is cribbing reports from a.p. and other places, so he was just trying to not be noticed. mike daisey was, like, look at me, look at me. jason blair just wasn't doing the work. he was trying to sort of slip under the radar. you know what i'm saying?
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>> unfortunately, in addition to damage to his own -- very briefly, go ahead. go ahead. >> that's sort of what mike daisey did as well. he said i read reports and heard these stories, and he threw them in there. that's exactly what he said he did. >> right. the difference, of course, being that he said i was there. i saw their handshake. i met with these workers. i was in the dormitoriedormitor. it was just the tissue of lies and mark place did a lot of pulling apart that tissue of lies. thanks very much. coming up in the second part of ""reliable sources" "the pundits are, again, denigrating mitt romney and calling for newt gingrich to quit. plus, a conversation with ali wentworth with her new book and life with abc's george stephanopoulos. [ male announcer ] this is lois.
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you could be forgiven for thinking that the coverage of this week's presidential primaries sounded pretty much like the coverage of last week's presidential primaries. it was not a good week for mitt romney. he lost the two mark econtests in alabama and mississippi. it's never a good week for mitt romney. rick santorum is always on the verge of becoming a serious threat to romney, and the next contest is a make or braenk state. >> if two third place finishes
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in the south is mitt romney's iron grip on the nomination slipping away. >> santorum really connects with people and n a way that governor romney doesn't seem to be able to do. >> santorum's biggest hope is to keep the thing as chaotic and confused as possible. >> newt gingrich who failed to win the two southern primaries offered a predictions. >> we now have three or four days of the news media, and they'll all say why doesn't gingrich quit? >> it turns out gingrich had a pretty good crystal ball. >> it's time for newt to go away, but he won't. gingrich seems to think he is running against what he calls the elite media. that might explain why he keeps losing to the candidates. >> it's hard to see the rationale for a gingrich candidacy. >> newt is the guy at the bar who realizes he is not getting the girl and doesn't want you to get the girl either. >> joining us now to examine the latest twists and turns in the 2012 coverage in new york catherine crier, former anchor
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for cnn, abc, fox news, and author of you new book "pat yonkt acts." and matt lewis, senior contributor of the daily caller, and david shuster, former msnbc correspondent, now chief substitute anchor for "countdown" on current tv. catherine, what do you make of the pundits just denigrating and picking apart and criticizing and slamming mitt romney week after week whether he wins or loses? >> so what's new? every election cycle revelation, the media is critical. pundits pick the candidates apart, and we do our best to keep the races going. we love the conversation. frankly, in this situation the candidates -- the candidates keep offering up just extraordinary events, comments, behaviors for us to pontificate on. i think the responsibility -- >> that may be true. david shuster, it seems to me there is particular piling on in the case of romney.
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he was never expected to do particularly well, and then there was another round of why -- >> a couple of things. look who his competition is. those guys are -- i mean, they -- anybody jeb bush, rich daniels would have flattened the earth on those two guys xshgs here's mitt romney, he is still struggling. i don't think it's the media that's saying, oh, that i a problem for mitt romney. the media is reflecting the public polling. it's not the other way around. the public polling has often said there is an enthusiasm gap for mitt romney, and there's a greater gap that they had than john mccain had. >> except that in the weeks when romney wins or wins big and wins a big state like florida, he still can't connect. he is a weak frontrunner. >> that's the danger. once a media nar ti is created that you are awkward or weird or bhaefr, it's very hard to break out of it, and i would say, though, mitt romney hasn't done a great job of changing the narrative. you mentioned florida. he did win well -- big in
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florida. but in michigan, very late into the night, very late after newspapers or newspapers or he narrowly beats. >> you are david shuster, you are accurately reflecting -- >> he also came in third place. not second place, but third place in the south. >> gentlemen, the fact of the matter is -- >> it's been a very, very badly run campaign in the sense that for all the money that they're spending, they have a horrible relationship with the press. mitt romney should be talking to a guy like matt lewis. he was the conservativing pac blogger of the year. has he done a single interview with a mainstream journalist? >> he was on fox news sunday three weeks ago. catherine, go ahead. >> you know, remember, we do love to chase shiny objects. you know, the comment that matt just made that we create a narrative and then stick with it, you have a surprise vote in one of the primaries, and the next day's headlines are the comeback kids. boy, we have swung our attention someplace else. so we are relatively easily
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manipulated into a new narrative. >> well, speaking of shiny objects, catherine, what about this dog story? i brought this up on the air a couple of months ago. i said the media just love this 30-year-old story about strapping the irish setter to the roof -- going on the family vacation. why should post put it on the front page this week, santorum brought it up, and again, if you turn on msnbc, they're talking about the dog. why is that? >> you are talking to somebody with six dogs. i could have told you what they talk about, because -- >> you have the expertise to answer the question. >> look at the millions we spend on pet care every year. these are our families. it is important. not big-time. it is reflecting character people believe, and it's a consideration. it's a darn funny, sad, humiliating story, and we love that stuff. >> anybody want to offer this on the dog issue? >> people love their dogs. i mean, i will say i think she's totally right. >> it was 30 years ago.
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>> they're like a dog with a bone. >> this constant patter by the pundits that gingrich should get out, why doesn't he get out. you are an opinion guy. look, i mean, i think that ultimately they will decide, and maybe if anybody can tell newt gingrich to get out, it's shell nadelson and not matt lewis. >> he couldn't resist. >> i thought -- here's my take. first of all, there were other people who have been calling for him to get out, and i thought awkward times when gingrich actually was surging. my take now is gingrich -- the -- he was supposed to be the candidate -- who dominated the southern block. those were the expectations that gingrich set up, that we're not going to do great on super tuesday. then we go into the south. if gingrich can't win alabama and mississippi, there is no path to victory for it. he is sort of in there not for
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the most noble -- >> there's a path to victory, and journalists like newt. he is colorful and talks to us all the time, unlike certain other candidates you just mentioned. >> that is true. >> why this sort of apparent haste to boo him off the stage so we can have our two-man race. >> i think for the same reason that ron paul is a distraction as well. it's inconceivable that newt gingrich will get the nomination. there's a path clearly for mitt romney. there's a much smaller sort of path for rick santorum, and i think the media -- it's easier for the media to follow a two-person race than a three or four person race. i don't see lots of punnedilities spending air time saying ron paul, he hasn't won anything. why is he still in this thing? in the case of newt, is it -- is it simmering resentment over his attacks on the media elite? >> i don't know if it's so much that. ron paul has a huge following, and i think the media is generally afraid of them with your twitter box filling in any time you say anything negative. >> ron paul is essentially irrelevant.
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>> i think the reason that that is so interesting is there is a question. is this helping romney because it's splitting the sort of evangelical or social conservative vote, or, in fact, is this driving a possible brokered convention, and both of these questions i think are very interesting. we don't know the answers to them. the brokered convention, i i mean, even michael steel that was saying on friday he thought that's where we were going to end up wrrn gingrich may have his own motives for pushing for something like that, and the extraordinary moment, though, but it's -- i don't think for gingrich or any of the pundits it's about him winning the nomination, but what is the back burn that may be machiavellian going on here. >> every juniorist at this table started to salivate when you use that term. >> absolutely. >> everyone in the press wants one. >> secondly, you know, if newt gingrich is not winning anything and he can't even win osd of his home state of georgia, why doesn't the press just ignore him or minimize mihm or not pay attention to them as opposed
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this constant psychoanalyze of why newt refuses to get out of the race, and his ego. >> he is still collecting dell fwats. this does affect romney's total and could affect that brokered convention. >> i want you to give us your analytic take on why there is this -- i should say obsession among journalists with what gingrich does or doesn't do. >> i don't know about obsession, but he makes good copy. come on. you know, we tell a lot of narratives, including ron paul. no one expected him to get the nomination. but -- he sort of dropped off the radar the last week or so. he makes really good copy, and we tell the stories. >> on that point, no disagreement here at this table. let me get a break next. fox news is accused of schilling for mitt romney. is rick santorum right? found in roc® retinol correxion deep wrinkle night cream. it's clinically proven to give 10 years back to the look of skin. now for maximum results... the power of roc® retinol is intensified with a serum
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fox news is a couple offed to bias and charges of lubral bleed, but this week came from rick santorum, a former knocks news contributor who had this to say about. >> he is all the organizational advantage. he has fox news schilling for imevery day. i see it. >> we believe we have been fair to rick santorum. certainly sean hannity likes
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him. some people thought he was co-anchoring with greta san success ren he was on so much where sdmroosh he was talking about fox's coverage of mitt romney and david shuster. fox news is in the tank for mitt romney? not exactly -- >> i don't think it's deliberate, but the fact of the matter is mitt romney is the republican stabment county. rick santorum is not. fox news is the republican establishment. i think it used to be that fox news worked for the republican party. now the republican party works for fox news, and i think that's the better dynamic to evaluate. >> there is no -- you know, in a primary process, remember, two of the three candidates, newt and mitt, were fox news contributeors. it's not as clear cut as it might be in the general election. >> except that fox news is that mitt romney has a better chance of beating barack obama than santorum or newt gingrich. they decided, look, mitt romney is going to be the guy. we think he is going to be the one to make the best competitive election, and i think, therefore, the cupboard naturally becomes more pro-mitt
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romney. >> when you say they, fox is a big network, matt lewis, and when santorum was press odd this, he said he was pressed by greta van susteren. i certainly don't mean hannity. i meant the daytime people. what is he talking about? >> let's say this. there's a huge cavat to say the tougherest interviews mitt romney has endured have come to -- come at the hands of brett bair and megan kelli. fox has given mitt romney really tough intufrdz. there is no conspiracy. roger is is not ordering people to take it easy on romney. look at who the santorum voters are. look at exit polling. santorum scores well among people who are not college educate ed who make less than $100,000 a year. fox folks are predisposed to favor mitt romney. i think david is right. they tend to be establishment. it's not a conspiracy. >> fox certainly -- let me turn to another issue that i have for you, catherine, and that is the 17 minute obama campaign ad that
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was produced by an oscar winning director, voiced by tom hanks. it's gotten all kinds of tv coverage. people were playing it. i'm asking why. why give free air time to something that's campaign propaganda? >> well, for heavens sakes, how often do candidates put out media that know that he will carry the brunt of their costs by replaying clips if it becomes a news story. i find it interesting that makes me recall the leslie stahl devastating piece about ronald reagan many, many years ago, and she got a call from the white house thanking her, and she thought, wait a minute, that was pretty hard hitting. it turned out that people didn't pay as much attention to the words as the flags and -- >> famous leslie stahl story. >> sfams story. >> this is a beautiful piece. obviously nar rated by tom hanks. it would be interesting if the absorption by the public is substance. we'll debate it all day long, or
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if it comes across as the beautiful production piece that's been delivered. >> 20 seconds. anybody think a 17 ad by -- >> the reason this is so good is it doesn't look like a campaign ad. it looks like a media entertainment production. it's very well done. >> certainly mitt romney has the money to put together a 17 minute ad. >> we'll find out when he produces his long-time -- catherine, david, matt, thanks so much. after the break, me and actress ali wentworth on her new on-line venture with yahoo. why she thinks washington is a snooze, and what she chooses to reveal. ...[ whistles ] i did not want to think about that. relax, relax, relax. look at me, look at me. three words, dad -- e-trade financial consultants. so i can just go talk to 'em? just walk right in and talk to 'em. dude, those guys are pros. they'll hook you up with a solid plan. they'll -- wa-- wa-- wait a minute. bobby? bobby! what are you doing, man? i'm speed dating!
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holly wentworth is an actress and comedian who is expand her portfolio. maybe it's her marriage to george stephanopoulos, but she's tiptoeing into talking about news. she started a daily on-line show for yahoo. >> let me tell you a little bit about what the daily shot is. it's done right here in my new york kitchen, and the daily shot is basically for the mom who is sitting in carpool saying really, there's a primary in florida today? really? black balloons on the first day. sometimes we get our news much closer to home. so last night romney -- >> she's also the author of a new book called "ali in wonderland." i spoke with her earlier here in the studio. >> ali wentworth, welcome. >> thank you. great to be here. >> i think of you as somebody
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who is funny on tv. let's talk about this yahoo show. why do you want to put yourself out on the internet? >> well, i am a pioneer, howard, and i think the internet is the next phase, and the dirty little secret is i can do it from my kitchen table, and i'm a lazy girl, so we do the daily shot from my kitchen table, and i do my own hair and makeup, which is sometimes catastrophic. >> don't you like to be pampered? >> no, i don't. no, no, no. i'm a girl -- eye -- just in and out. i get all kinds of comments like, oh, she has bags under her eyes and why didn't she brush her hair? >> it's real. >> it's real. it's relatable. >> it's unfiltered. >> i love doing -- i sort of like talking about the topics that we pick and having fun with it, and, you know, george always comes in while we're shooting so i can turn to him, of course, and -- >> your husband has input into your yahoo life. >> i let him have a small role in my show. i don't understand why he won't put me on the roib roundtable, but i do invite him in.
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>> i'm sure you have lobbied him hard. we'll come back to him later. this book that you have written shows that you have had a crazy life. i think to be more precise -- >> crazy or fascinating? >> well, you say that you were -- i think this is on page two. >> yeah. >> completely unzipped, dimmented, whacked. you start off with the scene where you are having a semi-breakdown because your ex-boyfriend who was a comedy writer, who you broke up with, by the way, just ran off with his new wife. why do you feel comfortable sharing so much of yourself? >> well, because i think that people relate to it. i like relating. you know, i like the fact that everybody is -- have you ever had your heartbroken? >> a couple of times. >> yeah. everybody has that story, and -- >> just last week, in fact? >> just last week. i'm so sorry. i like to sort of, you know, look at stories, look at my own personal life and go, you know, this happened to me, and people relate. when you read a book and you kind of find identify with things that are going on, you know, that's how you reach the
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reader. >> you have had, i guess it's fair to say, a roller coaster romantic life. you have another tale in this book about having been engaged to a french director, and then he came to visit your family. >> yes. >> and then what happened? >> well, then mayhem ensued. he came -- he was a very proper french director who wore lots of designer clothes and sunglasses, and my family is very, you know -- we shower occasionally and we wear the same clothes and we're a very comfortable in our own skin, and he came in, and we were just -- my family was not having it. they were not having a notty french director, and i think when i took him to k-mart in the middle of rural virginia that pretty much -- that killed it for him. >> the romance was gone. >> the romance was gone. yes. it would have been killed by my family anyway, but i think k-mart put it over the edge. >> we went out there. snoo don't ever take him to k-mart. >> i was engaged a few times. i have a box of rings, as i say, in my book because --
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>> you didn't gvr them back. >> i did give them back. i always felt bad. i don't know how to say no, when somebody proposed in the moment. >> you were engaged a bunch of times, and you went through these various episodes, and then you had -- you were set up on a blind date with george stephanopoulos, and you talked about this on the leno show. >> i did. i didn't play the games. i didn't play hard to get. he would say what are you doing thursday, and i was, like, nothing. nothing tomorrow. nothing tonight. >> any hesitation should i say in sharing some of these more intimate details of how you fell in love with your husband and was he -- >> certainly not on my part. >> okay. how did george feel about it? >> you know, george is a very private person, so -- but this is a joyous thing, ali and george coming together, so, you know, i gave him obviously a rough draft of the book, and i said do you have a problem with this? you know, he loved it because it is a sweet story.
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it is our story. you know, i'm not twittering pictures of him on the toilet. i mean, it's a nice thing. >> he didn't take out a red pen and say this is out, this is out. >> no, he didn't, which is surprising, but i have also learned. early on in our marriage i was blah, blah, blah about everything, and then -- >> you talked about your sex life and everything else wrrn. >> and like a puppy whose face has been pushed in the soiled carpet, i finally am house broken. you know, now i know what's okay and what's not. you know, to me it's such a great story. the fact that we were engaged two months later, i mean, that is very rare. >> you are easy. >> well, i like to say as rush would say, i'm a bit of a slut, but, you know -- >> is that a terrible word? >> it is a terrible word. where he. it's not a word that i throw around loosely, so to speak. yes, i don't think you should call anybody a slut. >> i totally agree with that. you could make fun of yourself in a way that -- >> oh, yes. i will cull myself a slut until the cows come home because
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it's -- >> we're taping this, by the way. >> yes, i know. >> now, you moved to -- you get married. you're living here in washington. and you write in the book "i was not happy about relocating to a story where people bark like seals about gallop polls." are you suggesting that the nation's capital is perhaps a little dull? >> no. barking like seals is an enthusiastic thing. no, it's very very much -- eye equate it to when i live in l.a. it's a one industry town. it's a bit tedious. every once in a while i would have liked have a dentist come over. >> i agree, but i just didn't get to meet him. >> you actually went to a dinner party where nobody knew that julia roberts had just gotten married. >> can you imagine that? >> and you write i felt like i had been pumped by the universe because this was not the life you imaged for yourself. >> yes. it's not the life i was living in hollywood. i do remember they were having a debate about financing and iraq and all the stuff happened, and
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there was a pause for one second, and i said julia roberts got married today, you know, and half the people at the table didn't know who julia roberts was. but that was really my -- i had just come from l.a., and this was a hot topic. shock. >> yeah. >> now, of course, you live in new york. george stephanopoulos, the cohost of "good morning america." and you relocated him. has being around him increased your interest in politics, or do you still kind of shy away from politics in >> well, i would say what's happening in our country interests me in politics. you know, he doesn't -- we don't talk a lot about politics. that's not our pillow talk politics. and certainly he's been talking about it all day. he doesn't want to talk about it with me. we talk about all the marriage transactions like did you pay the plumber? are you going to pick her up at the sleepover? you know, that's sort of what we talk about. >> two high-powered people in this normal marriage. >> yes. why would he want to talk about politics? >> you're not obsessing on the next primary. >> but i am fun to watch a
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debate with. >> because? >> because i joke around the whole time. >> because you're trashing everybody? >> well, it's not trashing. it's a base of comedy. >> speaking of politics, you emceed an event at the white house. >> i did. >> with michelle obama. >> i did. >> and what did she tell the audience? >> i introduced her, and she came out and said i was just upstairs with the president. the president said who did you get to emcee? he said, ali wentworth, is she appropriate? in my world is a huge compliment. >> your feelings weren't bruised? >> no, it was great. i saw him a while ago after that. he put his arm around me and said, "you're a funny girl." >> presidential seal of approval? >> exactly. i don't see carrot top getting that. that's all i'm saying. >> given that you've achieved a certain level of prominence, married to a big-time network anchor, you clearly like to have
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fun. i'm just getting that here. i'm a real student of character. do you feel now that you have to kind of self-edit and tone it down and not be yourself? >> no, i don't feel that. i mean, i -- you know, i -- people seem to paint me more outlandish than i am. you know. i'm not kathy griffin. i don't just go, ah! >> you're not taking your clothes off in front of the camera. >> no, which is for -- because i'm saving everybody else from that. >> okay. >> as i've seen myself naked. it's more about -- and this comes from a childhood growing up here, it's more about levity and laughing and, you know, i grew up in a world where, you know, my father was at "the washington post." everybody was very serious. >> your mother seemed like a wild and crazy person. >> really? >> you're the only one that read that. you know, and even now with what george does, i think it's also important to laugh. and i find comedy -- >> so your whole laughter and entertainment and shtick is a rebellion against your
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childhood? >> the nixon administration. >> okay. if i put you on the couch, because you felt like things were very serious in your household. >> yes, which they were. we were at war -- there was a lot going on. and i, you know, as a young child, i was, you know, wanting to watch "laugh in." but there's funny things about the world, you know, let's laugh. you know, the greatest compliment i've gotten from this book is people who say, you know, my husband is in the hospital with cancer. and i've been reading him this book. and he's been laughing. and the nurses come in, and they laugh. and i go, that's the greatest gift of all. >> thank you for cheering us up today. >> thank you for having me. >> thanks for stopping by. still to come, the california reporter who got a late-night knock on the door from the police. the media monitor is next. ♪ [ woman ] when i grow up, i want to take him on his first flight. i want to run a marathon. i'm going to own my own restaurant. when i grow up, i'm going to start a band. [ female announcer ] at aarp we believe you're never done growing.
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time now for "the media monitor," our weekly look at the hits and errors in the news business. this one is jaw-dropping. it involves doug oakley of the bay area news group. apparently the berkeley police department didn't like oakley's article about a heated community meeting in which residents complained about a lack of information. how did the department express its dissatisfaction?
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police chief michael men ordered the sergeant to go to oakley's house in the middle of the night and demand that the piece be changed. can you imagine? wait till you hear this spin. he called the late-night visit, quote, an overzealous attempt to make sure that accurate information is put out. "overzealous"? the officer had a gun. meehan has apologized. this is a sad thing when the newspaper did the right thing. for nearly two decades, bob caldwell was part of "the oregonian." he died of a heart attack at 63 and the paper erroneously reported that he had been found in a parked car. but the paper later corrected that report. caldwell had said had been visiting a 23-year-old woman whom he paid for sex. he collapsed after they had sex and she called 911. caldwell's widow told the a.p. said she understood why they
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needed to print the story. one more twist, the family friend who gave the paper the false story turns out to be an editor of the paper. she has been fired. at the risk of being revialed for the softy i am, paying tribute to one of the oldest practitioners of journalism. first here is 11-year-old topanga, a reporter for scholastic news who landed an audience with the first lady. >> who you do you respond to critics who say the government should not be telling people how to eat or stay active? >> you know, that's absolutely right. and let's move doesn't do that. >> i've seen grown-up reporters who ask much softer questions. and marilyn haggerty is a food critic for the "grand forks herald." her review of the olive garden went viral with nearly 300,000 people reading it online within a couple of days. >> i just don't get it. i figure that somebody must have picked it up, maybe the olive